Lindsey Graham may be catching a break as pols line up to challenge him
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is going to be challenged in the Republican primary. But he may be catching a break because his opposition will be badly divided, and unless they can agree on one candidate to support, Graham is likely to slip through to victory.
A small group called Carolina Conservatives United, one of dozens organized loosely under the flag of limited government, low taxes and strict adherence to the Constitution, sent out images last week of a milk carton bearing Mr. Graham's face and asked Gov. Nikki R. Haley to issue the state's version of an Amber Alert to find its missing senator.
"Lindsey Graham has not been seen in the state of South Carolina for most of the last two years," said Bruce Carroll, the chairman of the group.
Conservatives in South Carolina are eager to oust Mr. Graham, who has enraged the far right for, among other things, reaching across the aisle on immigration and supporting President Obama's nominations for the Supreme Court. Tea Party supporters called him a community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood when, instead of heading home for the Congressional break this month, he went to Egypt at the request of the president.
But to stand a chance against the politician who succeeded Strom Thurmond in 2003, conservatives will have to win a civil war of their own. At least 40 groups align themselves along Tea Party and Libertarian lines, and trying to unify them to topple the state's senior senator will be no easy task.
So far, three people have stepped forward to challenge Mr. Graham in the June primary: State Senator Lee Bright; Richard Cash, a former Congressional candidate; and Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from the Citadel and, at the moment, the challenger whose political star is rising the fastest.
In a one on one primary, Graham would almost certainly lose to stronger conservative. But if the conservative vote is split 3 or 4 ways, it makes a Graham victory probable.
So it will depend how much the Tea Party wants to beat Graham. If they can discourage any more entrants to the primary and settle on one candidate to support, Graham will have a very hard time surviving.